Best of Sonoma

Top 25 Most Awesome Tasting Rooms in California

Wine tasting is not merely the act of drinking wine, it is the total experience and that includes the physical space you are standing in when sampling Sauvignon Blanc or pondering Petit Verdot.

Top 75 California Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking (a non-dump bucket list if you will!)

In my last article, I listed the Top 75 French Wines to Try Before You Quit Drinking.  In this article I look at the “non-dump bucket” list for wines from California.  This proved to be a different task.  First, very few wineries have a long track record of making great wine.  Secondly, while California is diverse, it does not have the diversity of climates and terroir and grape varietals of France.  Still, it does produce some of the best wines in the world and any wine lover should make it a point to try as many of them as they can.  Here is my list:

1. Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon – It’s hard to pick the first wine.  This one is a great wine in every vintage and has been for a long time.  Expensive but still possible to afford and made in large enough quantities to be found in grocery stores.  Every lover of Cabernet should try this once.

Q&A with Amelia Ceja, Owner of Ceja Vineyards, Sonoma

In 1999, Amelia Ceja co-founded Ceja Vineyards located in the Carneros region of Napa Valley. Amelia was named president which made her the first Latina Woman Vintner in California. The Ceja family paved the way not only for Latinos but also for many minority families in the wine industry. Today they produce about 10,000 cases of wine which is distributed throughout the U.S. and hey farm over 100 acres of prime vineyard land. Additionally they have successfully used social media and Amelia has created over 100 video blogs about pairing wine and Mexican food.

Best Sonoma White Wines Worth Seeking Out (for the money)

IntoWine asked our panel of experts to share their recommendations for the best Sonoma County white wine for the price:

Sonoma’s reputation for making ultra premium wines does not come without merit. Sonoma has history of making focused, sumptuous wines from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Bordeaux varieties. Recently, I came across Leo Steen’s Chenin Blanc. The wine proved to an honest expression of the classic French variety, with hints of citrus and island fruit. The palate is rich, with a clear acidity that carries through to the finish. The grapes for this wine come from a small sustainable vineyard in the Dry Creek Valley. The sandy, stony soils contribute to the vitality of this unique white wine which would pair well with just about any seafood, salad, or chicken recipe. (About $20) – Ben Spencer is a diploma student with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and an IntoWine Featured Writer.

Best Sonoma Red Wine Worth Seeking Out (for the money)

IntoWine asked our panel of experts to share their recommendations for the best Sonoma County red wine for the price:

Sonoma seems to always have an uphill battle as its sibling, Napa, constantly gets the spotlight. But there are exceptional wines coming from this region. The Clos Du Bois Reserve Tempranillo ($22) is ripe with blackberry, black plums, soft and spicy blackberry, blueberry and black cherry positioned correctly with oak and acid. One-fourth of this wine is cabernet sauvignon, which builds a dense, strong structure most tempranillo’s do not have. Layered with a juicy fresh crushed dark fruit mouth feel, this is a surprisingly commanding wine that at first blush seem like it might have come from Napa. But no, Sonoma wines stand on their own. Michael Cervin, Wine Judge, Restaurant Critic, and IntoWine Featured Writer

Top Sonoma Pinot Noir

California's Sonoma County has a near-perfect climate for growing cool-weather grapes.  Fog banks that creep over the hillsides from the Pacific Ocean and relatively cloudy weather during key months (Californians call it "June Gloom") make many parts of Sonoma an ideal place to plant pinot noir and chardonnay.

Sonoma County: Dog Friendly Wineries

Dog lovers are always on the look out for places they can easily take their four legged friends. IntoWine.com has scoured Sonoma County to find the wineries that lay out the welcome mat for dog owners to bring Fido along. The list below is in no particular order.

Taft Street Winery Sebastopol - The winery has an industrial feel to it. The tasting room sits across the driveway from the actual production facility. This is not a winery with vast gardens and scenic views. It's a production facility. More...

Sonoma County: Best Wineries for Tours

Looking to take a guided tour of a winery production facility or the vineyards themselves? IntoWine.com has scoured Sonoma County to find the wineries that offer tours. The list below is in no particular order.

Benziger Family Winery Glen Ellen - Benziger is a must see destination spot for people planning a Sonoma winery tour. Beautiful, with a "Garden of Eden" feel to it, Benziger offers just about everything you can want in a winery experience with great wines, beautiful gardens, grand views, bio-diversity, hourly tours, picnic grounds, and even a playground for the kids. More....

Sonoma County: Best Wineries to Host Large Groups

Taking a large group or even hiring a bus for a trip to Sonoma? IntoWine.com has scoured Sonoma County to find the wineries best suited to host large groups. The list below is in no particular order.

Imagery Estate Winery Glen Ellen - The vibe at Imagery is one of wine, art, and nature. Imagery is a biodynamic winery so a huge emphasis is placed on preserving and embracing nature. Nature lovers will love walking the grounds to discover and encounter the bio-diversity. The tasting room is as much art gallery as it is wine bar as dozens and dozens of paintings adorn the walls. Imagery is known for its unique artist-commissioned wine labels so it is a must visit for label collectors. As for the wine, Imagery is a biodynamic farm with an emphasis on rare grapes and diversity in their wine offerings. More...

Sonoma County: Best Wineries to Take in a View

There are some Sonoma wineries that simply have the good fortune of being located in a prime spot for visitors to take in a grand view. IntoWine.com has scoured Sonoma County to find the wineries that are worth checking out if only for the view. The list below is in no particular order.

Marimar Torres Estate Sebastopol - Nestled in the rolling hills of western Sonoma County, Marimar Torres Estate off the beaten path for winery hoppers but worth the trek out of the way. The grounds and the views at Marimar Torres are splendid, particularly during the Spring/Autumn seasonal changes. More...

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